Cary Blake

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake travelled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in Arizona and California. He also covers New Mexico and West Texas agriculture for Southwest Farm Press.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.

Central Coast weather research targets water efficiency in wine grapes

On a warm, sunny afternoon in late April, University of California Cooperative Extension Viticulture-Soils Farm Advisor Mark Battany guided the GMC pick-up truck across hilly, drought-parched pasture near Paso Robles on the Central Coast.

The truck moved slowly – dodging a gopher hole – to reach a new state-of-the-art weather station which extended 35-feet skyward on land owned by the J. Lohr Winery.

Arizona, New Mexico in El Niño's wet path this year?

Don’t get out the umbrellas just yet. University of Arizona agricultural meteorologist Paul Brown is suspicious of wet weather forecasts as are many of you.

“For many years, I have not trusted climate models, yet over the last 3-4 years they’ve done a pretty good job correctly predicting wet weather biases in the Southwest, including wet summer monsoon patterns,” Brown says.

The National Weather Service reports an El Niño wet weather pattern is finally in place – about six months later than expected.

2015 Desert Ag Conference huge hit with farming crowd

About 230 pest control advisers, growers, and other agricultural industry members gathered May 6-7 for the 2015 Desert Ag Conference held in Chandler, Ariz.

The crowd heard the latest information on about 20 agricultural issues and topics including pests in alfalfa, bee health, new leadership at the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the agricultural weather forecast, insect vector management, precision phosphate applications, cotton pest management, and more.

Enjoy these snapshots at this key Arizona agricultural event.



New Arizona farm chief talks budget, water, GMOs

Mark Killian, tapped in April as the new director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA), is quickly finding a new home with his rural constituents on the issues and challenges which lay ahead for the Grand Canyon State’s $17 billion farming industry.

The Killian family has deep Arizona farming roots with more than a century in production agriculture.

“Agriculture has been a part of my life – I love it,” said Killian, who grows cotton, wheat, and alfalfa and raises beef on about 1,700 acres in the state.

Drought lowers 2015 California almond crop estimate

The California drought continues to plague California farmers as survey results from the government’s agricultural statistical agency predicts the 2015 California almond production at 1.85 billion-pounds, down 8 percent from 2013 production.

The 2015 subjective production estimate figure from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) compares to 2.01 billion pounds in 2013, and 1.87 billion or 1 percent lower than last year’s crop.

The NASS survey pegs 2015 forecasted bearing acreage at 890,000. 

Ron Ratto appointed 2015 California LGMA chair

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has a new chairman – vegetable grower Ron Ratto, president of Ratto Bros. Inc. in Modesto.

Ratto previously served as the LGMA vice-chair for the last three years.

The Ratto family began growing vegetables in California more than a century ago. Leafy green vegetable crops grown today include leaf lettuces, chard, cabbage, and mustard greens.

Ratto is the LGMA’s fourth chairman.

2015 ASFMRA-California Chapter Outlook Conference

Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), water, commodity prices, farm acreage

Agriculture to farm two-thirds of UAV-drone market

Agriculture will be the “big winner” in the commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) industry, says UAV specialist and farmer Chad Colby.

“Agriculture could capture about 60-65 percent of the U.S. UAV market,” predicts Colby who has 2,000 hours of UAV flight time at his fingertips. That’s about two-thirds of total market share.

He says, “We can improve yields with this technology.”

Season-long whitefly management essential in cotton

Excess sugars from insects are nothing new to the cotton industry. While it rarely occurs, the impact can threaten economic viability and product reliability across the fiber chain.

Most cotton growers and pest managers perform yeoman’s work to prevent high sugar levels. Yet, it can take just one or two people not quite thorough enough in cotton management to result in a problem issue and possibly create problems for many people across a cotton-growing region.

Asian citrus psyllid.
Maricopa, Yavapai counties (Ariz.) in citrus quarantine
The new citrus quarantine area now covers 22,706 square miles in Arizona.
Killian new Arizona Department of Agriculture director

Mark Killian was appointed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey April 10 as the new director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA).

Killian succeeds retired ADA director Don Butler.

In announcing the state’s new agriculture chief, Governor Ducey said, “Mark brings decades of unique public service and private sector experience, and his extensive and successful background in farming and ranching will be hugely valuable in this role. He’s a welcome addition to this department and our administration.”

Precision agriculture opens research doors in pecan, other crops
UA weed scientist Bill McCloskey wants to tap precision agriculture technology to help reduce the weed population in fields, plus reduce the number of herbicide treatments and field passes.
Photos: International Spinach Conference, Yuma, Ariz.
Spinach specialists from around the world attend the International Spinach Conference in Yuma, Ariz.
Record 2014 for California processing tomato industry
"This is great news for the California processing tomato industry," says Mike Montna.
Cotton acreage decline more ‘permanent’ in California than Arizona
Cotton acreage decline more ‘permanent’ in California than Arizona
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